Alto Racing’s Winning Cause won the 32nd running of the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland on Saturday.
In addition to the $120,000 winner’s share, Winning Cause earned 20 points toward the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (G1) on May 4 at Churchill Downs. The Derby is limited to the top 20 point-earners that pass the entry box, and the cut line sits at 20 with one more race with points remaining, next Saturday’s Derby Trial (G3).
Winning Cause gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fifth victory in the race and jockey Julien Learoux his second. Pletcher previously won in 2005 (Coin Silver), 2008 (Behindatthebar), 2009 (Advice) and 2010 (Exhi). Leparoux’s previous victory came in 2011 on Derby Kitten.
“From the one hole, I couldn’t ask for a better trip,” Leparoux told Keeneland Publicity. “In the first turn, he put me in a good spot and I got room to get him out there (toward the middle of the track) and he just cruised around there and finished strong.
“He’s the kind of horse that fights back,” he added. :The more you ask him the more he goes. I kind of know him from last time (when he rode Winning Cause to win a Keeneland allowance race on April 6) and I knew I was going to get there.”
River Rocks led the field of 10 through fractions of :23.76, :47.66 and 1:12.45 as Winning Cause raced in midpack. Turning for home, Cerro put away River Rocks but the lead was short-lived as Winning Cause roared past en route to completing the 1 1/16 miles on the main track in 1:43.93.
Winning Cause, a Keeneland sales graduate who is undefeated in three starts here, is a Kentucky-bred son of Giant’s Causeway out of the Kingmambo mare Raffishing Look. The colt improved his record to 7-3-1-0 and his earnings to $206,140.
Winning Cause returned $15.60, $8.20 and $6. General Election, ridden by Joe Rocco Jr., returned $29.60 and $17.80 with Pick of the Litter finishing third under Jesus Castanon and returning $8.20 to show.
Cerro finished a neck back in fouth and was followed in order by favored Sunbean, Wings of Fortune, Pure Fun, River Rocks, Examen and Hip Four Sixtynine.